Staphyliniformia (Coleoptera) databases on new web site

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Mon Oct 20 13:30:31 CDT 2003

As a biogeographer I am very keen on the development of these kinds of web
pages as they provide readily accessible information for a large range of
taxa. This new website seems to contain both positive and negative aspects
for my purposes.

As a panbiogeographer my main interest is the geographic location of taxa.
The database will at least allow me to extract a certain level of this
information, but the approach using tabular information listing diffuse
locality names and arbitrary (and in my opinion entirely unscientific) area
units is not very helpful for producing a precise biogeographic map. There
is also a very cumbersome process of looking up various area unit symbols.

IF NSF can fund detailed taxonomic work I don't see why it (and grant
proposers) cannot fund suitably detailed geographic work. I can appreciate
that a map generated on the basis of exact specimen locality data could be
too time consuming, but a very usable alternative would be to just draw
some kind of reasonably precise graphic rendition of distribution ranges
for taxa at a level of detail commensurate for the geographic scale. This
would make the biogeographic potential far more valuable. At a glance I
would be able to discern any biogeographic pattern. In the current form I
would have to spend of lot of time constructing maps that would for many
localities be of dubious precision.

So its a great first step, but I hope maps will follow.

For those of you out there working on similar projects, please, please draw
maps! (I put out a similar plea some years back). It is time that the
traditional dislike of taxonomists for geography is abandoned.

In the meantime I might try to draw some maps from the data for my
biogeography web site.


At 10:05 AM 10/20/2003 -0500, Margaret K. Thayer wrote:
>We are pleased to announce the launch of a new web site constituting part
>of the project
>"Monography, phylogeny, and historical biogeography of austral
>Staphylinidae (Coleoptera)"
>based at the Field Museum with funding from the US National Science
>Foundation (NSF), under its PEET (Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in
>Taxonomy) program.
>In addition to a variety of information about the project (monographic
>research and training) and its progress, the site provides access to
>searchable and downloadable taxonomic and bibliographic databases extracted
>from our more extensive working databases and containing:
>Family-group names of all Staphyliniformia
>         (currently 974 names, for 454 valid taxa)
>Genus-group names of all Staphylinoidea
>         (currently 7216 names, for 4098 valid genera and subgenera)
>Species-group names of austral Staphylinidae, Silphidae, Leiodidae, and
>         (currently 7689 names, for 6877 valid species and subspecies)
>References (currently 3332) supporting the above, nearly all of which have
>         examined to verify the taxonomic information provided
>The database records include original and present status and spelling,
>complete citation of the original publication of each name, type taxa of
>family-group and genus-group names, information on types and/or type
>locality for many species, and often explanatory comments about the name's
>past or present taxonomic status. The names are presented in the context of
>a current classification; records for valid generic names include overall
>distribution and estimated number of described species, and those for valid
>species include overall distribution as well as number of specimens (if
>any) in the Field Museum collection.  The family- and genus-group name
>catalogs and associated references are also intended essentially as rough
>drafts of a part of the "Official List of Available Family- and Genus-Group
>Names in Coleoptera" currently in development under the direction of M.
>We expect to update the databases once or twice per year, and planned
>additions to the databases during the next few years include:
>- genus-group names of all other Staphyliniformia (i.e., Hydrophilidae s.l.,
>         Histeridae, Sphaeritidae, Synteliidae) and
>- austral species of the remaining families of Staphylinoidea (Ptiliidae,
>         Hydraenidae, Scydmaenidae).
>The project home page is
>where there is a direct link to the database section of the site.
>Design and implementation of the website were supported and carried out by
>the Applications and Enterprise Services section of Information Services at
>the Field Museum of Natural History, and we thank them their terrific
>collaboration in this complex project.
>We hope that these databases, and the monographs to be added in the future,
>will be useful resources for others.  Questions, comments, or corrections
>concerning the databases should be directed to Al Newton, and other
>questions about the site or the project to Margaret Thayer, at the
>addresses below.
>Margaret K. Thayer, Principal Investigator  <mthayer at>
>Alfred F. Newton, co-Principal Investigator  <anewton at>
>Margaret K. Thayer, Ph.D.               mthayer at
>Assistant Curator, Zoology -- Insects
>Field Museum of Natural History
>1400 South Lake Shore Drive
>Chicago IL 60605-2496, USA
>PHONE: +1-312-665-7741 (direct-dial)
>FAX: +1-312-665-7754
>Austral Staphylinidae project, including Staphyliniformia databases:

Dr. John Grehan
Director of Science and Collections
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, New York 14211-1293
Voice 716-896-5200 x372
Fax 716-897-6723
jgrehan at

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